Week 6 is when a lot of expectant mothers say they start to “feel” pregnant. This may be due to the body changes you could be experiencing. Week 6 also signifies that you are half way through the first trimester, and the risks are reducing every week.
During the 6th week of your pregnancy, the amniotic sac (the fluid filled sac that surrounds, cushions and protects the embryo) continues to develop along with the spinal cord, while a very early form of the central nervous system is evident. The blastocyst (embryo) now measures between 2.1mm and 4.2mm. The blood vessels that will later form the umbilical cord are continuing to form and develop during this week. The beginnings of the digestive system are also forming, with the first cells of the stomach and intestines developing.
Facial features continue to develop during this week, with tiny pits forming where the ears will eventually be. Nostril openings begin to appear along with dark spots where your baby’s eyes will be. The buds for the arms and legs that began to form in week 5 are still growing, while muscle and bone tissue are developing within them.
Your baby’s brain is developing at an extraordinary rate as the pituitary gland takes shape, the gland that is responsible for producing and controlling hormones. It is this gland that helps your breasts to prepare for breast feeding while supporting a whole host of other hormone related matters throughout pregnancy.
Your baby’s heart now has two ventricles and is beating twice as fast as yours.
Your Body and Symptoms
You may, by week 6, be settling into the idea of pregnancy. It seems a long time from now until your due date. You may be feeling a little irritated or moody which is usually due to the many hormone fluctuations and changes that are taking place right now.
This may, unfortunately, be the week when you start to experience morning sickness. Morning sickness can occur at any time of the day or night. It doesn’t have to involve vomiting it can just be a constant feeling of nausea, which is bad enough!
There are many home remedies to help alleviate the symptoms, from ginger to bicarbonate of soda. The best way to reduce the effects is to eat little and often even if you don’t feel like it due to the nausea.
By now you may notice that your energy levels have dropped a little. This is because your body is putting a lot of energy into creating and sustaining the placenta. The changes in hormones can also contribute to the feelings of fatigue. It’s important to rest if you can.
You may notice the need to urinate more frequently, this is due not only to your increased HCG levels but also due to the extra pressure on your bladder as your womb begins to grow. It is important to stay hydrated and to not compensate for the extra bathroom trips by decreasing your water intake. The reduction of diuretics however, such as coffee and some herbal teas, may help with the frequency as well as reduce your caffeine intake which is advised in pregnancy.
You may also begin to experience heartburn, indigestion, bloating or changes in your bowel movements and habits. This is a consequence of the muscle at the top of the stomach relaxing, allowing digestive juices to bubble back up the digestive tract. Eating slowly and frequently and avoiding constrictive clothing can help with this, but you should consult your Doctor or midwife if you are struggling to cope with indigestion. Eating plenty of fibre and drinking lots of water can help with both of these symptoms.
Foods to Avoid
It’s important to stay up to date on foods that should be avoided during pregnancy as some may cause harm to you and your unborn baby. Currently medical professionals suggest you should avoid:
- Unpasteurised Cheeses which could carry harmful bacteria
- Raw Eggs due to the risk of salmonella
- Liver due to the high concentration of Vitamin A
- Undercooked meat (even the rare steak you used to enjoy!) due to the risks of food poisoning
- Seafood due to the increased risk of food poisoning also
Your midwife or doctor will be able to provide you with an extensive list to remove any uncertainty over what you can and can’t eat.
You should also avoid cat litter, as there is a disease called Toxoplasmosis that you could catch that is extremely dangerous for your unborn child. If you live in the country you should also avoid sheep that are pregnant or lambing, as they secrete a hormone that can also be dangerous in the early stages of pregnancy.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
Many women start to feel cramps and twinges in their lower tummy and pelvis. These are generally of no consequence and are said to be due to the stretching of the tissues.
Bright red vaginal bleeding is common but not normal at this time. This is most often due to a slight threatened miscarriage which will settle but it can also be due to an ectopic pregnancy which is much more serious. With an ectopic pregnancy there may be a sharper more severe pelvic pain which may cause nausea and vomiting. The lower tummy and pelvis may be very tender and painful. The risk of an ectopic pregnancy is low in women who have not had one before but much higher if they have had one before or if they have previously had pelvic infection. In these cases a medical assessment is urgent and imperative.
Your Care on the NHS
On the NHS you may be offered an ultrasound, through one of the various early pregnancy assessment units. This isn’t common practice though. The ultrasound at this stage would be performed through the vagina. If there is any suspicion of an ectopic pregnancy then a scan will be performed.
Private Care Available
A private clinic can offer an ultrasound and a blood test at this stage, although you may want to wait just one more week until the heartbeat can be easily picked up by the sonographer. If there is any suspicion of an ectopic pregnancy then a scan will be performed.
At The Birth Company we have a resident Midwife who is available for telephone consultations if you feel you would benefit from the support and knowledge of Midwifery input at this stage.